Pope Francis has appointed two nuns, including a Frenchwoman, and a laywoman to the department responsible for the bishop selection process, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
French nuns Yvonne Reungot and Italian Raffaella Petrini and Argentine laywoman Maria Lea Cervino will be the first women to exercise this prestigious dicastery, the equivalent of a ministry.
The appointments come as the 85-year-old pope has repeatedly called for women to play a greater role in church government.
Last year, he authorized through a decree to read and give communion during liturgy, without going so far as to open the door to the priesthood for women.
A new constitution for the Roman Curia (the Vatican government) that came into effect last month allows women to lead departments at the Vatican.
Raffaella Petrini, a Franciscan, has been general secretary of the Vatican governorate since November, the first woman to hold the post.
Yvonne Reungoat, a 77-year-old Salesian, was appointed in 2019 along with six other women to the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life Associations, an institution responsible for religious orders and congregations.
This is again a first, because its members were until then priests, bishops or cardinals.
Maria Lia Cervino was previously president of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.
Members of the Bishops’ Dicastery are responsible for evaluating potential candidates and making recommendations to the Pope.
There is still a long way to go
In a press release, the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), an organization that has campaigned since 1975 for women’s access to the priesthood, welcomed the appointments, while noting that they ‘cannot compensate for the injustices faced by women in the Church’. , Condemnation of ‘Sexual Culture’.
“We observe the deep contradiction of women’s participation in the selection of bishops, which themselves are excluded because of their gender”.
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